Musical Monday: “Reckless” (1935)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

reckless-movie-poster-1935-1020143418This week’s musical:
Reckless” (1935) –Musical #190

Studio:
MGM

Director:
Victor Flemming

Starring:
Jean Harlow, Franchot Tone, William Powell, May Robeson, Rosalind Russell, Nat Pendleton, Mickey Rooney, Ted Healy, Henry Stephenson, Leon Ames, Allan Jones is a featured singer

Plot:
Musical actress Mona Leslie (Harlow) goes on stage thinking she’s performing for a charity event to find the whole house bought out by heir Bob Harrison (Tone).  Mona falls in love with Bob as he is courting her, and her gambling agent Ned Riley (Powell) sits silently in the background, though he is also in love with Mona. After a drunken evening, Bob and Mona marry and they face the disapproval of Bob’s wealthy society family.

Trivia:

Hungover Franchot Tone isn't too sure about his marriage to Jean Harlow in "Reckless."

Hungover Franchot Tone isn’t too sure about his marriage to Jean Harlow in “Reckless.”

-The film was originally supposed to star Joan Crawford under the title “A Woman Called Cheap.” However, producer David O. Selznick replaced Crawford with Harlow before production to capitalize off of Harlow and Powell’s real-life romance, according to the Darrell Rooney and Mark Vieira book “Harlow in Hollywood: The Blonde Bombshell in the Glamour Capital, 1928-1937.” 
-Dancer Betty Halsey doubled for Jean Harlow in the long shots.
-The film’s plot was very similar to a scandal that occurred two years earlier involving singer Libby Holman and her husband tobacco heir Zachary Reynolds. Similarly to the film, Reynolds drunkenly committed suicide. Holman threatened to sue for libel, but never did. Harlow was also uncomfortable, because the scandal in the movie was similar to the death of her husband Paul Bern. However, Powell convinced her to make the film, according to “Harlow in Hollywood.”
-Version of “Sing, Sinner, Sing” (1933) starring Leila Hyams and “Brief Moment” (1933) starring Carole Lombard.
-Jean Harlow’s singing was dubbed by Virginia Verrill. “She (Jean) realized that I couldn’t have credit for my singing, so she went out of her way to give me a hand whenever she could.”
-“Reckless” was the first Jean Harlow film to lose money.

Highlights:
-A very young Leon Ames marrying Rosalind Russell.

leon ames

Young Leon Ames with Rosalind Russell in “Reckless.”
(Screencapped by Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica Pickens)

Notable Songs:
This isn’t your typical musical. There are really only three musical numbers. Including:
-“Reckless” performed by Jean Harlow and dubbed by Virginia Verrill, written by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein
-“Trocadero” sung by Allan Jones and danced by Jean Harlow.
-“Hear What My Heart is Saying” performed by Jean Harlow and dubbed by Virginia Verrill

Review:
I guess calling this a musical is a stretch. It’s really a melodrama with three or four songs and dances built into the plot, and none of the songs move the plot along.
However, since it is categorized as a musical, the “That’s Entertainment” documentary features it and it’s Jean Harlow birthday, I decided to highlight the film today.
Reckless” may be the first Jean Harlow film to lose money, but I don’t think it’s un-watchable. It’s interesting, it kept my attention, the plot keeps moving, but I will say it isn’t Jean Harlow’s best film.
The film is interesting however, since it is shot around the time William Powell and Jean Harlow started their romance.
You also see Rosalind Russell early in her career, though she is not the comedic Russell we are used to seeing. Early in her career, Russell is cast as the other woman or the forgiving, jilted friend- such as in “Evelyn Prentiss,” “China Seas” and “Man-Proof.” Certainly not the comedic lady we later came to know.
Also keep your eyes peeled for a young, line-less and un-credited Leon Ames as he marries Russell.
If you are looking for a musical with show stopping numbers, this isn’t it. But if you enjoy a good MGM melodrama with a few songs sprinkled in starring the original platinum blond, check it out.

Jean Harlow's character Mona Leslie is a musical star in "Reckless."

Jean Harlow’s character Mona Leslie is a musical star in “Reckless.”

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Actress beauty tip #29: 1930s eyebrows

This is the twenty-ninth installment of the monthly classic actress beauty tips that I have read about and tested…except for this one.

Jean Harlow with her signature, exaggerated eyebrows.

Jean Harlow with her signature, exaggerated eyebrows.

Eyebrows are the frame work of the face.

Overtime that framework has been defined differently.

The 1940s were more natural and of medium thickness.

In the 1960s were heavy, emphasized with an eyebrow pencil.

But the most dramatic eyebrow look was in the 1930s. Brows were thin with exaggerated height.  Several actresses shaved their eyebrows and drew on their eyebrows. Petroleum jelly or oils were used to give a shiny look on the brow, according to Return to Style.

Jean Harlow’s high arched, drawn on eyebrows became part of her signature style. Greta Garbo plucked her eyebrows thin to follow the arch of her eye socket. Marlene Dietrich shaved off all of the hair and penciled on her brow higher than her natural hairline, according to the Encyclopedia of Hair: A Cultural History.

Some actresses shaved their eyebrow for role and they never grew back:

Lucille Ball dressed as a blond slave in "Roman Scandals" (1933)

Lucille Ball dressed as a blond slave in “Roman Scandals” (1933)

-In her first film appearance “Roman Scandals” (1933), Lucille Ball was asked to shave off her eyebrows. She was playing a slave girl with a long blond wig. Her brows never grew back and she had to pencil them on the rest of her life, according to the Encyclopedia of Hair: A Cultural History.

Lana Turner in "The Adventures of Marco Polo" (1938)

Lana Turner in “The Adventures of Marco Polo” (1938)

-Lana Turner was asked to shave her eyebrows for “The Adventures of Marco Polo” (1938) and had slanted brows were drawn on to give an “Asian look.” Her eyebrows never grew back. She later had false, stick on eyebrows made that she wore for the rest of her life. Her daughter Cheryl Crane said she only saw her mother without her false eyebrows twice, according to the book LANA: The Memories, the Myths, the Movies.

Bette Davis as Queen Elizabeth I in "The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex" (1939)

Bette Davis as Queen Elizabeth I in “The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex” (1939)

-For her role as Queen Elizabeth I in “The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex” (1939), Bette Davis shaved two inches off her hairline at the forehead and her eyebrows off. She said they never grew back properly and had to use an eyebrow pencil, according to IMDB.

To review: Though I have testedmany of all of my beauty tips but I have not shaved off my eyebrows and drawn them back on for this one. However, I think several of us have had that panicked moment of over plucking and fearing they won’t grow back properly. It’s amazing how many actresses had to deal with eyebrow issues for the remainder of their lives due to shaving them off for roles.

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Turner Classic Film Festival: MacMurray, Harlow, Hitchcock, Bow and Wayne

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Friday (April 26) is the first full day of the Turner Classic Film Festival and it has been amazing.
Above is a photo of Kate MacMurray, daughter of Fred MacMurray and June Haver introducing “Suddenly It’s Spring” (1947).
The next photo is the ceiling of the Egyptian Theater where I saw “Notorious” (1946) and “It” (1927).
Today’s films that I saw:
-Libeled Lady (1936) starring Jean Harlow, William Powell, Spencer Tracy and Myrna Loy. I’ve seen it several times and can say its a favorite comedy of mine.
TCM’s Scott McGee introduced the film and said, “Screwball comedy is a lost art” which I would agree with.
Libeled Lady was advertised the first “all-star cast” since Dinner at Eight, McGee said.
It’s really amazing to sit in a theater where people applaud when Harlow comes on screen and die with laughter during Powell’s trout fishing scene.
-Suddenly It’s Spring (1947) starring Paulette Goddard and Fred MacMurray.
I LOVED this one. A really fun comedy about a couple who decides to get a divorce in 1941 but both serve during WW2. When they return, Goddard, who’s career as a WAC is giving marriage advice, isn’t so sure about the divorce but MacMurray already has a new bride picked out.
MacMurray’s daughter Kate spoke before the movie and told wonderful stories such as:
-John Wayne set up her parents June Haver and Fred MacMurray at a costume party. MacMurray’s previous wife had passed away as did Haver’s boyfriend.
“Mother was dressed as a saloon girl, maybe that’s what did it,” MacMurray said.
-MacMurray, a saxophonist and also once a singer for a jazz band, played the saxophone for the My Three Sons TV show theme song.
-After making The Apartment-where he plays a cad-the MacMurray family was at DisneyLand. A woman approached him and hit him with her purse because she had taken her family to see the movie. “That wasn’t a Disney movie,” she told him. MacMurray felt uncomfortable playing his roles in Billy Wilder films “The Apartment” and “Double Indemnity” since they weren’t his customary nice guy, comedic roles.
-Carole Lombard got him a raise at Paramount
-Haver met MacMurray before the costume party while making a film. Haver said he was so sweet and would bring his lunch, usually a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

-Notorious (1946) starring Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant. Rose McGowan spoke before the film and said it was a favorite of her’s. Hitchcock’s creative shots looked excellent on the big screen, but I must confess I dozed off. Not because I was bored but the 3 hour time change and lack of food (there’s literally no time to eat) made me tired.

-It (1927) starring Clara Bow. This was the first time I had seen a silent film with a live orchestra accompanying and it was AMAZING. Biographer David Stenn who wrote “Clara Bow: Running Wild” spoke before the film and called her a “great natural talent of movies.”
It is a really fun silent film, which coined Bow as the “It” girl. But as a dachshund owner, my favorite line is “I feel so low I could walk underneath a dachshund on stilts.”

-Hondo (1954): starring John Wayne and Geraldine Page. This was the first 3D movie I’ve EVER seen. It was amazing. I’ve always said She Wore a Yellow Ribbon was my favorite Wayne film but seeing Hondo for a second time may have changed my mind. The film is a perfect example of Wayne’s ruggedness and western appeal as he fights off the Apaches. In short, John Wayne is my ideal man.

That’s all for tonight! I opted to skip out on the midnight showing of Plan 9 from Outer Space to gear up for tomorrow’s films.
For updates during the day: check me out on Twitter @HollywoodComet or @StarJPickens. If you don’t have a twitter account, you should still be able to find me even by googling my name and Twitter.
Apologies in advanced for any typos. I’m using WordPress on my phone which is slightly cumbersome.

“She didn’t want to be famous, she wanted to be happy”: Remembering Jean Harlow

**Above quote said by Clark Gable.

Today, Comet is remembering Jean Harlow on her 102 birthday, one of the most beautiful women to grace Hollywood.

“In the first sitting, I fell in love with Jean Harlow,” said photographer Charles Sinclair Bull. “She had the most beautiful and seductive body I ever photographed.”

Harlow paved the way for platinum blondes of the 1950s such as Mamie Van Doren and Marilyn Monroe. She died at the age of 26 in June 1937 of uremic poisoning brought on by acute nephritis.

“She was a square shooter if there ever was one,” Spencer Tracy said.

Harlow off the movie screen

Harlow with a young fan outside of Grauman's Chinese Theater in 1933.

Harlow with a young fan outside of Grauman’s Chinese Theater in 1933.

Watching the National Air Races of Los Angeles Municipal Airport in 1933. She raised the flag tobegin the races.

Watching the National Air Races of Los Angeles Municipal Airport in 1933. She raised the flag tobegin the races.

Celebrating the end of Prohibition, Harlow christens a truck load of beer in 1933. Pictured with Walter Huston.

Celebrating the end of Prohibition, Harlow christens a truck load of beer in 1933. Pictured with Walter Huston.

Harlow with fiance William Powell at William Randolph Hearst's birthday party in 1936

Harlow with fiance William Powell at William Randolph Hearst’s birthday party in 1936

Harlow lets out toads for a Horned Toad Derby in 1931.

Harlow lets out toads for a Horned Toad Derby in 1931.

Harlow with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt in 1937, celebrating the 55 birthday of President Roosevelt. She was also helping raise funds for infantile paralysis.

Harlow with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt in 1937, celebrating the 55 birthday of President Roosevelt. She was also helping raise funds for infantile paralysis.

 

 Harlow Fashion

Harlow was well known for slinky, white satin gowns. In April 2012, Time listed her as one of the top 100 fashion icons of all time.

Harlow

Harlow in her signature style of a slinky gown

Harlow in a suit designed by Adrian, who shares a birthday with her

Harlow in a suit designed by Adrian, who shares a birthday with her

Harlow in fur

Harlow in fur

Harlow in shorts

Harlow in shorts

Harlow in 1933. A gold and sequined gown with an Oriental influence

Harlow in 1933. A gold and sequined gown with an Oriental influence

Harlow in 1933 in riding clohes

Harlow in 1933 in riding clothes

Harlow on set of film "Personal Property" in 1937

Harlow on set of film “Personal Property” in 1937

Harlow and furry friends 

It’s said Harlow was a lover of animals. On the day Rin Tin Tin died in 1932, jut a month shy of 14, Rinty was no longer strong enough to go to his master’s side. Harlow, who lived across the street, came over and cradled his head in her lap as he died. Years before Lee Duncan had given her one of Rinty’s first puppies.

Harlow and her dachshund Nosey

Harlow and her dachshund Nosey

Jean Harlow hugging her Pomeranian, Oscar

Jean Harlow hugging her Pomeranian, Oscar

Harlow in 1936 with her dog

Harlow in 1936 with her dog

Jean Harlow in 1932 with a Borzoi

Jean Harlow in 1932 with a Borzoi

Harlow in her mother

When Harlow died, her mother estate was left to her mother which worth roughly $1 million.

Jean Harlow with her mother

Jean Harlow with her mother

Harlow and Jean Bello in 1935

Harlow and Jean Bello in 1935

Harlow and her mother in 1932

Harlow and her mother in 1932

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Classic Christmas Addiction

Part of why I love Christmas is getting to watch my favorite classic holiday films such as “Christmas in Connecticut”, “White Christmas” and “Remember the Night.”

But I also love looking at Christmas related photos with classic actors and actresses.

Every day since December 1, I’ve been posting a Christmas related photo on Comet Over Hollywood’s Facebook Page, and searching for the day’s photo can be an addicting task.

Even long after I find the photo of the day, I keep browsing-marveling at the ridiculousness of vintage Christmas photos.

I’ve found these classic photos can be divided into categories. Here are some examples:

Glamour: These photos show actors looking beautiful and wealthy at their homes during Christmas.

gina

Gina Lollabrigida looking glamorous in her Christmas tree

Copy of Carole Lombard

Carole Lombard

glam paulette goddard

Paulette Goddard

glam jean harlow1

Jean Harlow

glam Anite Page

Anita Page in 1932

glam christmas jennifer jones

Jennifer Jones

Adorable and cute: These involve child actors or actresses looking sweet and angelic. 

cute jackie cooper

Jackie Cooper

Bacall And Bogart

The Bogart: Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall and their son Stephen.

cute leslie

Joan Leslie

cute keatons

Buster Keaton and Natalie Talmadge with Junior and Bob

cute our gang

The children of Our Gang

cuteNatalie Wood

Little Natalie Wood

cute Shirley Temple

Shirley Temple in 1935

cute Priscilla Lane

Priscilla Lane

rita hayworth

Rita Hayworth

Ridiculous or funny: Photos that try way to hard to make a photo Christmasy or make it a sexy Christmas photo.

Dorothy Jordan and Gwenn Lee, I don't even understand what's happening.

Dorothy Jordan and Gwenn Lee, I don’t even understand what’s happening.

Joan Crawford

Joan Crawford flirting with Santa in 1932

Janet Leigh

Janet Leigh with a Christmas tree hat

Esther Williams

Esther Williams in unreasonable winter clothing

funny Maureen Osullivan

Maureen O’Sullivan…..dressed as a choir boy.

funny Margaret Obrien

Margaret O’Brien…wrapped as a package?

funny Clifton Webb

Clifton Webb as the most unlikely Santa Claus

Visit Comet for more holiday fun this month!

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Actress Beauty Tip #11: Platinum blonde hair

Hollywood’s original platinum blonde

Before Ginger Rogers, young Bette Davis and later Marilyn Monroe dyed their hair platinum blonde, Jean Harlow was the first.  Robert Osborne said in March “Now Playing” article that it’s hard to say anyone is the first:

Since the movie medium is now well into its second century, it’s virtually impossible for anybody to be “the first” to do something cinematically. Make a 3D movie? Some folks still have aching eyes from when third-dimension movies were a craze fifty-eight years ago. Watch a film on an iPhone? Basically, people were watching movies that size when “flickers” were initially introduced in small machines called Nickelodeons over 100 years ago. Even in the early 1930s, when our TCM Star of the Month Jean Harlow began her spectacular career, it was not easy to do something in the film world no one had done before. But Harlow did have first-time bragging rights on one thing: she was the first in what became a long line of platinum blonde bombshells who have added sizzle, sensuality and sassiness to the film medium ever since.

Osborne said before Harlow, dark haired vamps were the sex symbols in the 1920s like Theda Bera and Louise Brooks.

My new platinum hair! I even got bangs!

In honor of Jean Harlow’s 100th birthday on March 3, I decided to dye my hair platinum blonde. I’ve never dyed my hair before, so I thought “What the heck? I’m about to graduate from college so I might as well do it now.”  I wanted my hair to look like a field of silver daisies that someone would want to run barefoot through, like Franchet Tone said in “Bombshell.” I’m also a big Lady Gaga fan, so I wanted to look like her as well.

I used the same recipe studio’s used to dye Harlow’s hair the iconic blond hair, according to the beauty website “Steal Their Style.”

A mixture of:
•Peroxide
•Ammonia
•Clorox flakes
*They also used Luxe Flakes, but unfortunately those aren’t made anymore so I just omitted it.

There is a reason people don’t use this to dye their hair any more. It smells really horrible and wasn’t very comfortable.  I also look horrible with blonde hair since I have fair skin, as you can see in the picture above.

APRIL FOOLS! 🙂

My real hair. No hair dye for me!

April Fools is really silly but in honor of Jean Harlow’s 100th birthday in March, I thought it would be interesting to look at the dangerous mix of items they used on her hair.  I am wearing a horrible blonde wig I bought at Party City to dress up as Lady Gaga for Halloween 2009.

Several actresses who peroxided their hair in the 1930s and 1940s experienced problems with hair loss, brittle hair and thinning hair. Jean Harlow wore a wig in the movie “China Seas” (1935), because she was trying to let it grow back to it’s natural color, according to IMDB. Ginger Rogers also described problems with her hair in her autobiography “Ginger: My Story.”

I probably will never, ever dye my hair, but certainly not platinum blonde. Please, please, please don’t try this. I’ve always been told never to mix clorox and ammonia so don’t you try it either. If you do and you get hurt, don’t send your lawyers to me. If you feel so inclined to dye your hair bleached blond, don’t do it this way. Actually don’t do it at all. I know very few people who look good with peroxide blonde hair and several of them were actresses-not people I know in real life.

Check back in May for the year anniversary beauty tip!

And just in case you were curious…me as Gaga haha

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Saratoga: Harlow’s last curtain call

Jean Harlow’s death in 1937 at the age of 26 came to a shock to many; particularly those working on her last film, “Saratoga.”

Jean Harlow and Anita Loos worked on several movies together, such as “Red-Headed Woman.”

Anita Loos described in her 1977 book “Cast of Thousands: A Pictorial Memoir of the Most Glittering Stars in Hollywood,”  waiting on the set with Clark Gable and other stars in the film for Jean Harlow to get out of the hospital.  Loos wrote the screenplay for “Saratoga,” along with several other Jean Harlow films like “Red-Headed Woman.”  The book is divided up into different sections about several different actors that Loos encountered during her time in Hollywood, and a large portion is dedicated to working with Jean, Jean’s marriage to Paul Bern, and her death.

The stars were under the impression that Harlow would get well again, the film would be completed, and they would continue on with their usual business.  If I recall correctly, Loos said Harlow had been off the set for a few days, and they continued shooting the scenes without her.  When they received the phone call of her death, they were shocked, and close friend Clark Gable (who nicknamed her Sis) was devastated.

I saw “Saratoga” two summers ago and thought it was entertaining but rather disturbing.  The film was incomplete when Harlow died, so several of her scenes had to be shot with her double Mary Dees and a voice double.

The scenes after Jean’s death are weird and uncomfortable to watch for a couple of reasons:

1. The fact that you know she is dead, even though you saw her before at the beginning of the movie
2. The covering of the face, the irritating fake voice and the thin scenes the double is in are disconcerting.  The voice drives me up the wall and part of you is like “Turn around, I want to see Jean’s face” though you know darn well it’s not her.  The scenes with the double are so brief and fleeting that you can tell the crew was saying, “Let’s wrap this up as quickly and painlessly as possible.”
3. The fact that Jean is in the last scene singing with Clark Gable on the train.  I guess this scene was shot earlier, but you almost think, “Oh, there’s Baby, she’s okay.”

Here are scenes that someone put together of Jean’s double taking over for the rest of “Saratoga”:

Here is a video of Jean acting in “Red Dust” (1932) so you can compare the voices:

Regardless of the double, the general plot of “Saratoga” is good, and it has a strong cast, including Jean Harlow, Clark Gable, Walter Pidgeon, Frank Morgan and  Lionel Barrymore.  Clark Gable is his usual scoundrel, playing a gambler this time, who wins a ranch in a bet from Lionel Barrymore.  Now that he’s won Barrymore’s ranch, Clark is now trying to win over his daughter Jean Harlow. This was Harlow and Clark’s sixth and last film together.

With the star power here, this clearly wasn’t a B movie that they were throwing Jean in because they thought she was washed up. There was a lot of money at stake.  After Jean’s death, there were talks about shelving the movie and reshooting her parts with Virginia Bruce or Jean Arthur.  However, fans pleaded with MGM to let them get one last chance to see their Baby, according to IMDB.

Gable and Harlow in their last film together.

I have mixed feelings about reshooting with another actress or keeping Jean’s parts in the movie.  Jean and Clark have terrific chemistry, like always.  But frankly, the plot is predictable and typical of a Clark Gable movie.  I personally think it was only saved by Jean Harlow’s comedic wit and beauty.  Jean Arthur would have been terrible in the role, and Virginia Bruce would have been just as predictable. The film would have fallen flat.

But at the same time, I almost wish the film had been shelved, much like Marilyn Monroe’s unfinished movie “Something’s Got to Give” (Though the difference is “Saratoga” nearly done and Monroe’s film just starting).  I’m not saying that I’m not thankful to see one last glimpse of Jean alive and well, but it’s heartbreaking to watch.  You see her at the beginning of the movie very beautiful and very much alive.  It’s like watching someone on the street, knowing they are about to die, but they have no clue.

After 74 years, Jean Harlow is still loved and missed, and “Saratoga” is still a bit disturbing. We love you, Jean; happy 100th birthday.

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